Rugby - South Africa made to work hard for victory

Scotland were given a stark warning about how far they will have to raise their game if they are not to be whitewashed in their four-team tournament when South Africa were made to work hard for a 44-10 victory by a buoyant and passionate Italy side.

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Adriaan Strauss scored South Africa's first try (PA Sport)

The Springboks had a racing start to thank for their win, with tries in the first quarter by Adriaan Strauss and JJ Engelbrecht.

With Morne Steyn adding both conversions and a couple of penalties, South Africa seemed to be romping home, but instead of buckling, Italy shrugged off these early setbacks and got on with trying to claw their way back into the game.

They stifled the home side for the remainder of the half to keep them at 20-0, then, after the break, took up where they left off and pummelled the Springbok line until a wonder between-the-legs pass from captain and number eight Sergio Parisse put centre Alberto Sgarbi over the whitewash.

A conversion and penalty from fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo got them back into the game until Steyn pulled his side clear with his third penalty and Bryan Habana grabbed a spectacular solo try to settle home nerves.

That ended the spirited Italian fightback and Engelbrecht should have had another score before Jean de Villiers scored his team's fourth try, with Bjorn Basson then rounding off the scoring with an interception breakaway.

While South Africa, Scotland's next opponents, were impressively ruthless, Italy, Scotland's opponents the following week, will also take heart from the second and third quarters where they dominated the game with more than 90 per cent of the possession.

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